The 10th-ranked Fort Hays State women's basketball team looks to continue its winning ways Thursday (Jan. 23) when the Tigers hit the road to take on Missouri Western. First tip in the Battle of the Black and Gold is set for 5:30 p.m. in St. Joseph, Mo.
A win Thursday would give the Tigers a 10+ game winning streak for the 13th time in program history. Fort Hays State's nine-game winning streak is the second-longest active streak in the MIAA and 13th-longest in DII.
Winners of three in a row over the Griffons and seven of the last nine, Fort Hays State holds a 28-22 lead in the all-time series. The home team has dominated the series, with Missouri Western leading 15-8 in St. Joseph and the Tigers leading 19-5 in Hays. Missouri Western has won each of the last two meetings in St. Joseph, with the last Tiger road win coming on December 7, 2013 (67-53). Fort Hays State is 12-5 against Missouri Western under head coach Tony Hobson, including a 3-5 mark on the road.
The Tigers are 7-5 in the Joe under Hobson thanks to a 4-0 mark in neutral site contests.
Taylor Rolfs has scored an average of 9.0 points per game in four meetings with MWSU, including 16 points in the most recent meeting. Belle Barbieri averages 8.6 points and 8.0 rebounds in three games against the Griffons.
Barbieri has been a strong presence for the Tigers in conference games, leading the MIAA with 2.6 steals per game, ranking third in field goal percentage (62.3 percent) and fifth in rebounds (8.0 per game).
Missouri Western is off to a 13-3 start to the season, including a 5-2 mark in conference play. The Griffons are one-half game behind the Tigers in the conference standings. They are a perfect 8-0 at home and 5-3 away from MWSU Fieldhouse. The Griffons rank sixth in the conference in both scoring offense and scoring defense, averaging 73.6 points per contest while allowing 58.8 points per night. They have the third-best shooting percentage in the league, ranking 26th nationally at 45.5 percent. Two Griffs rank in the top 10 in scoring in the MIAA, led by Chris Wilson's 15.1 points per game and Corbyn Cunningham's 14.9 points per contest. Wilson also ranks fourth in the league with 8.4 rebounds each night. Cunningham buries 55.2 percent of her shots from the floor, third-best in the conference.
Tiger men look to bounce back
Fort Hays State men's basketball heads to Missouri this week for a pair of MIAA contests. The trip begins in St. Joseph on Thursday at Missouri Western. Game time is 7:30 pm, which follows the women's contest at 5:30. FHSU enters at 7-9 overall, 1-7 in the MIAA, while MWSU is 7-11 overall, 3-4 in the MIAA.
The Tigers look to gain traction in a conference full of parity this year. The Tigers are currently in 13th place in the conference standings, but sit just two games back in the win column of ninth place. Only five teams have five or more wins in MIAA play so far this year. No team in the MIAA has an overall win percentage of less than .389, with 7-11 being the worst overall record right now owned by Missouri Western, Central Oklahoma, and Newman.
Looking ahead, the Tigers have seven conference games remaining against teams currently with sub-.500 overall records, compared to just four against teams with winning records. The path ahead also includes a make-up non-conference game with Kansas Wesleyan in Hays this coming Monday (Jan. 27). Seven of the eight games the Tigers have played so far in conference have been against teams with above-.500 overall records.
Jared Vitztum leads the Tigers at 13 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He had a career-high 21 points in Fort Hays State's most recent game, a 75-72 loss at home to Washburn. Devin Davis is the only other Tiger averaging double figures in scoring at 10.9 points per game. Jake Hutchings, Nyjee Wright, and Aaron Nicholson are all just shy of 10 points per game, all averaging at least 9.7 per game. Nicholson had a season-high 17 in the loss to Washburn this past Saturday.
Tyrell Carroll leads Missouri Western in scoring and assists, averaging 17.8 and 5.9 per game respectively. Tyus Millhollin also averages at least 15 points per game, just north of that mark at 15.1 per game.
FHSU owns a three-game win streak in the series history with MWSU, which dates back to the 2016-17 season. The Tigers and Griffons will meet just one time in the regular season for the seventh-straight year, which dates back to the 2013-14 season. FHSU won the last meeting between the teams in St. Joseph in 2016-17 by six points, before winning meetings the last two years in Hays by 19 (2017-18) and 10 (2018-19).